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Snowmobile Survival List and notes.

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  • Snowmobile Survival List and notes.

    We all know why we should carry survival gear. Most people also know it will never happen to them and if it does S & R will save them. The problem is how long will it take. In less than 12 hours you could lose your toes to frost bite. The average snowmobile rescue is 3 to 5 days. Most people are missing for 2 days before S & R are notified they’re lost.

    With 12+ hour nights and temperatures below freezing you are going to be miserable just think how much fun you will have without any gear.
    This is a list of the minimum items you should have and why. I also have some notes that may help you.

    * Items for a day trip.

    *Gasoline: 1 Gallon or more.

    *Spare glasses:

    *Coat: Daytime temperature 10 above, on a clear night 10 below.

    *Warm Hat: Wearing a helmet all day or night not fun.

    *Gloves: You always need dry gloves.

    *Cigar Lighter with a piezo starter: 5 times hotter than a lighter.

    *Fire Starter: Trioxane, heats water or start fire, very hot, 6 ea.

    *Road Flares: Signal for help day/ night, also for starting a fire 3 ea.

    *Saw: Cutting fire wood or brush for a bed, safer than an Axe.

    *MINI MAG-LITE: Adjustable focus has a spare lamp. If your snowmachine engine stops running you have no lights to find the problem or to set up camp at night.

    *8 AA batteries: 8 ea.

    *Big Plastic Bags: Sleeping bag, rain coat or fill with snow to make a shelter.

    *Shovel: To get unstuck or to building a snow cave or a Quin-zee.

    *Knife: Swiss Army knife.

    *Metal pot & cup: Melt snow for drinking water. Drink hot water to warm you.

    * Big Candle: One candle will last 2 hr. The light will give a comfortable feeling, save batteries, keep you warm and help start a fire. Aluminum Foil around a candle will help keep wax from dripping. 3 ea.

    Snowshoes: I rarely use them, but I always carry them. They have gotten me out of trouble so many times. Breaking a trail up a hill that I went down and could not get back up, walking over overflow to get out, getting wood for a fire or getting stuck in snow so soft you fall through to your arm pits.

    Book: Staying Alive in the arctic, an excellent survival book.

    Tarps: With ropes, 2 ea. 9x11 and 6x6, for a shelter.

    Gas Stove with siphon hose. I use a MSR stove it will work at any temperature. The siphon hose and snowmobile gas will give you many hours of heat, assuming you did not run out of gas.

    Food: GORE, Nuts, Cookies, Candy Bars, Pepperoni, Cup of soup,
    Lipton Rice. Food that does not freeze.

    Added Items: First Aid kit, duct tape, Axe, TyVeck sleeping bag, socks, long Johns, The last thing you do before getting into your shelter is put on dry long johns.

    1. Do not camp in a windy area.
    2. Do not camp in a low area like a river bed. The temperature 50 feet up a ridge can be 20 degrees warmer.
    3. Drink lots of hot water to help prevent frostbite & hypothermia & nibble on food.
    4. Stay with your snowmobile someone may come by and if S&R are looking for you they will see a snowmobile.
    5. Do not sit on the snow. Remove and use your seat or cut brush for a bed or seat.
    6. Do not wear COTTON this includes cotton shorts.
    7. If you are cold when you’re snowmobiling how do you expect to be warm waiting for help?
    8. Survival gear needs to be tested to insure it will work for you. Camp out in the back yard.
    9. When Search & Rescue is looking for you at night, they will be using night vision goggles (heat sensing), if you hear an Airplane, start your snowmachine, or light a Road Flare. It is very important to put out the flares, when they get close because you are blinding them.
    10. Your snowmobile can be used as a heat source to warm your hand or feet. This can be VERY DANGEROUS. If your hands or feet are frostbitten, you will not feel the heat & cook them.
    11. Do not leave your partner to go for help. Anxiety of being alone will reduce his chances by 70%.
    You will take chances (getting hurt or lost), knowing your friend is depending on you.

  • #2
    I would add....

    that I carry both a small bow saw and cruiser ax. I also carry a small folding come-along with which I have winched myself out of some tricky alder thickets while hunting rabbits and ptarmigan.

    Spare plugs are a given, but some people forget to bring along HEET for drying their fuel. Extra belt. Basic tools beyond the mickeymouse factory set.
    Light expendable line is always handy as is wire.


    • #3
      Oh yeah,

      small snowshoes (emergency variety) are a lifesaver if you have to walk out!


      • #4
        great post

        Reading both of your lists, and thinking,, you know I go out quite often alone and although I go for what I call short rides, I am many many miles away from the house in just a few minutes. The walk back would be very long, and if I were hurt and could not walk back It could be a personel disaster. My wife never really knows if I am headed cross country for Elephant lake, or up the moose river and toward Chickaloon flats. so much area to look for someone...
        I am going to take your list and make a special pack with said items including those chemical toe and hand warmers. I have a Chamber Vac sealer and will put stuff that I can shrink smaller in those. I may have to get creative to make it all fit into a pack of somekind that will stay on and with the sled. On my new Ski doo Summit. I have one of those molded plastic extra gas tanks, and some room behind it that I can rig a water proof bag.
        One of my sno go buddies has a metal cup and some soup bouillon packets. they never go bad if you keep them sealed up. and that is a great idea to spice up the hot water idea.. The gas stove is anouther great Idea. The Quin-zee idea is of course a life saver. My scout troop sleeps in these every winter. you can get these almost too warm with just body heat and a candle. you don't want to start melting your snow cave, but it can be -30 outside and 32 degrees or more in your quin-zee. way better than a tent. I need to get me one of those Texas sleeping bags, that puff up to the size of Andre the giant when out of the bag, and when your squish all the hot air out of them you can carry it in your back pocket. maybe Wiggy can work on that one for us huh? If he comes out with a bag called the TEXAN, I want some royalties
        Thanks again for the reminder about this, as I am so guilty of taking those midnight rides alone from my house up the Moose river 30 miles etc..
        When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

        Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years.


        • #5
          Great list

          Problem is, the majority of riders these days are simply recreational and are not out hunting or trapping and can (or want to) carry that much weight. I take a lot of day trips and carry with me what I would need to make it till the next daylight usually. I carry a decent sized internal frame pack which is mostly empty so I have room to shed clothing and keep it dry during the day.

          In the pack I carry a first aid kit that I put together and vacuum packed, some emergency food and fire starter (also vacuum packed), a saw, flares, a couple of emergency candles, an emergency space blanket, extra gloves, a stocking cap, nails, parachute cord, electrical tape, some stainless steel aircraft wire, a magnesium fire starter, a super Leatherman, and I have my Life Link shovel strapped to the outside. Most of the time, the pack doesn't weigh more than about 15-20# which is acceptable for my riding style (fairly aggressive).

          On the sled I carry a heavy tow strap/rope, extra tools, common bolts/nuts, spark plugs, oil, gas, and a couple of belts. These items stay with the sled and are never taken off.

          It would be nice to take everything including the kitchen sink, but many riders won't take on the extra weight since they want to live dangerously and keep their sleds performance up. There has to be a happy medium I guess.

          The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


          • #6
            Your probably right

            I'm old school- never out to burn up the snow or burn up gas for that matter. Always have a mission of some sort whether it be hunting, fishing or wood gathering. Lived in the bush too long I guess.


            • #7

              Pardon my ignorance...Assuming it is a snow cave/shelter. Can you explain the specifics for me?


              • #8

                A Quie-zee is a mound of snow hollowed out to make a snow cave.
                In a area where there is a little snow, say one foot deep, and 30 feet dia.
                Shovel all the snow into a pile app. 12 feet long 10 wide and 8 feet high.

                You have to make one to realize how hard it is, to make it correctly and how long it takes.

                If you were smart enough to bring tarps or plastics bags life would be a lot easier.


                • #9
                  Google Quinzee and you will get all the info you need.


                  • #10
                    About what I figured...

                    just never heard the word before. I've done some "winter camping" with the boyscouts and though it may not have been in the low temps that you are accustomed too...I hav built the same type of shelters and they are EXTREMELY warm, given the fact that you are surrounded in snow!
                    Thanks for clearing all up for me.


                    • #11
                      bulky items in quin-zee

                      Like was mentioned before, garbage bags or tarps are the way to go when building a Snow house.
                      Pile up as much bulky stuff as possible before you start throwing snow on top of it.
                      Leave air inside the Garbage bags as puffy as possible etc.
                      I like to have 12 to 18 inch's of snow for my roof and walls.
                      When you dig out your stuff from inside, use a willow that is about 20 inch's long and push it thru the snow roof, if it shows up on the outside, you are about as thin as I like to get, but keep carving out a little at a time until you get the head room you like.
                      I don't want much more than that much snow anyway, as if it happened to collapse, you would not want to be trapped by excess weight.
                      I have had some scouts climb ontop of the quin-zee and bust thru, but after these have set for a day or two, they get pretty stout..
                      I have entertained finding an inflatable heavy rubber ballon like a huge beach ball , and use it for the mold.
                      One thing for sure, the work out to build one will keep you warm while you build.
                      Oh yeah..
                      I picked up some ultra light small snowshoes and a ultra light aluminum shovel for my sno-go pack.
                      I am headed to Paxton in the AM, May ride over to Maclaren lodge if I get the time.
                      When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

                      Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years.


                      • #12
                        emergency gear snow machine

                        A come along, a small shovel and a long rope. This way you might be able to AVOID a survival situation if you get stuck, speaking from stuck experience! Remember you can snow machine more in an hour then you can walk in a day. Chef


                        • #13
                          As a guy who packed survival kits professionally and been to various survival schools and conducted survival training I think its vital to stress a few things:

                          1) Never carry anything you have not practiced using--some things are intiuitive but if you have anything that requires technique...practice with it use it in a controlled environment so you're confident you can use it. Also select items that can be used one handed in the event you're injured i.e. pocket chainsaws are compact and work great but if you're one handed...useless, so I carry a T-handled game saw

                          2) Learn how to make a fire in a hurry--and carry a GOOD fire starter kit. Again, practice building a fire with your non-dominant hand (simulated broken arm/hand)

                          3) Learn how to build snow shelters--Quinzee, snow cave, thermal A-frame, tree-well (U.S. military survival manuals or Google)

                          4) Learn how to improvise ground signals

                          5) Take a First Aid course--Shock, CPR/rescue breathing, splinting, bleeding etc.

                          All that said, I carry the following items. Most are in my pack but some are in the windshield bag/on the sled:

                          Spare thermals & socks, mittens, balaclava--I expect to be wet with sweat from riding or from my failed attempt to get unstuck/restarted/ and/or to my overnight spot and my shelter built
                          2ea 4x8 sheets of Tyvek house wrap (painted orange)--for lean-to, ground cloth/signal
                          100 feet 1/4" nylon cord
                          Compact saw--your saw must be usable 1 handed
                          Food for 3 days--6 Snickers, 6 string cheeze, 3 pouches hot cocoa, 3 tea bags, 6 packets bullion all packed in a nalgene bottle, plus 1 8oz bag jerky
                          Fire starter kit--small knife, vaseline cotton balls, striker/flint bar
                          4 sq ft heavy aluminum foil
                          12 handwarmers
                          Candle in a can--heat up your snow cave/quinzee
                          LED Headlamp & spare batts--keep battery powered stuff inside your coat before using as warm batteries last longer
                          Coaches whistle and signal mirror
                          Shovel w/ probe
                          Med kit + tylenol
                          Spare glasses--really important for contacts/glasses folks
                          2 folding knives
                          2 large trash bags
                          Large lady's kerchief (mine's yellow)--sounds gay but it's a for laying out my survival gear so nothing gets dropped in the snow and lost. It also can be used as a bandage or sling, or you can make a flag to get someone's attention and to make water. Tie the corners to a pole (hobo style) and pack it with snow. Hang it just close enough to your fire to get the snow melting. Catch the drips in your camelbak bladder or nalgene bottle or whatever you have, or make a cup/bowl with the foil.

                          A note about water: Drink it as you collect it. Stress, exertion, injuries, dry cold, digesting food and medicine all tax your hydration level. Being dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. Try and resist the urge to eat snow--it robs you of body heat. If you carry a water bladder in your pack you can use it to melt snow. Its a slow process but does not require a fire--don't drink more than half your water and keep the bladder inside your clothes next to your base layer. Add a few hand fulls of snow every 15 to 20 minutes. Your body heat keeps the water in your bladder warm and it melts the snow. To keep your water from freezing during the night, bury it under at least 2 feet of loose snow.

                          Once it becomes clear that I'm not riding out, the first and most critical thing is to stay calm, accept the situation for what it is and THINK about my actions. I need to stay dry, hydrated and warm.

                          If the sled's FUBAR and I'm mobile and/or only lightly injured, my ultimate plan is to get to a place that allows me to build a shelter and maintain a BFF (Big Frickin Fire) that's visible from both the air and from probable routes of travel of other riders who may be looking for me/us--i.e. in sight of a known trail or popular play area. However, if severe weather is a factor then its into the trees where I'm out of the wind and close to the fuel for my fire.

                          Once I have fire & shelter I'm cutting lots and lots of pine boughs--some to make a bed so I'm not sleeping on the snow itself and the rest to ready a smoke signal. DO NOT overnight in an avy zone if you can help it!!

                          Now dry out my clothes by the fire and change into my spare thermals and socks, and hunkerdown
                          If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today


                          • #14
                            thanks Eric

                            I just got my kit put together. I am headed out Wednesday morning for Tok. Its the trip over the top to Dawson city.. this is the first trip of three scheduled trips. the 22nd of February. is the first. the 1st of March the second and the 8th of March the third..
                            Thanks again for the great lists and ideas.. It makes me feel a little better knowing I have the equipment to stay out if needed.
                            Talk to you guys next week
                            When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

                            Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years.


                            • #15
                              Everyones lists are right on. I also have an extensive amount of survival goods with me at all times while on my sled and my wheeler. One thing I would like to add is...i see most of the posts mention the hand and foot warmers. These are a great idea, that being said, these things have a shelf life, so a person will want to check/replace these every couple years. I found this out at home, luckily not in a time of need. Another thing I carry is a laser flare(the 20 mile version) these work amazingly well.
                              Last edited by kenairmk; 02-22-2007, 05:57.


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